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'Dungeons & Dragons' co-creator dies

  • Story Highlights
  • David Lance Arneson has died at the age of 61
  • He helped trigger phenomenon of role-playing games
  • Statement: Arneson died "after waging one final battle against cancer"
  • "Dungeons and Dragons" spawned video games, novels, a cartoon, and a movie
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(CNN) -- David Lance Arneson, who helped trigger the global phenomenon of role-playing games as co-inventor of "Dungeons & Dragons," has died at the age of 61.

A statement on the game's official Web site, wizards.com, said Arneson died Tuesday evening "after waging one final battle against cancer."

Arneson "developed many of the fundamental ideas of role playing: that each player controls just one hero, that heroes gain power through adventures, and that personality is as important as combat prowess," the statement said.

The game's co-creator, Gary Gygax, died last year.

In 1974, Arneson and Gygax created "Dungeons & Dragons," which allowed players to assume roles in a magical world. They could be fighters or wizards, elves or dwarfs.

"As characters journey through various lands, they search for hidden treasures while battling menacing monsters with their own brains and brawn," a description on wizards.com says.

Some games would last days or weeks -- or even longer. "Game campaigns are as limitless as the player's imaginations," wizards.com says.

What began as a hand-assembled print run of 1,000 games quickly sold out. Young people all over the world started buying up the game. By 1982, sales broke the $20 million mark.

Arneson filed a series of lawsuits against Gygax insisting he was not being given credit or proper royalties for his work creating the game. The suits were settled.

"Dungeons and Dragons" spawned video games, novels, a cartoon, and a movie. The franchise saw a surge this decade after "The Lord of the Rings" and "Harry Potter" movies took off.

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